Richards unfazed by England absences

September 6, 2007

Micah Richards believes England can overcome the loss of key performers such as Wayne Rooney and David Beckham and collect a maximum six-point haul from their vital Euro 2008 qualifiers with Israel and Russia.

Head coach Steve McClaren has had to contend with the absence of important players through injury while Steven Gerrard is not 100% fit because of his broken toe, although he was able to train on Wednesday.

But Richards, who set up Frank Lampard's goal against Germany last month, is convinced England can still win both games and put their qualification campaign back on track.

Richards said: 'We've got a few injuries but there is still enough quality in the squad here to win the two games.

'There are proven people here and also good people have come into the squad like David Bentley, Ashley Young and Joleon Lescott. They can come in and do a good job if required.

'But we must remember Israel are a good footballing side. They get stuck in as well. They don't make it easy for you to play. They make it very hard for you to play.

'Some people underestimate them. They have a few points in the group but, with the backing of 85,000 of our fans, we are confident if we perform to our ability.'

Richards was determined to fight for his place at Manchester City when it became clear Sven-Goran Eriksson was going to embark on a summer spending spree.

And he is also aiming to make himself an England regular and make it hard for McClaren to recall Gary Neville when he is fit by showing his quality in the double-header at Wembley.

He said: 'People asked me if I was wary of Sven because he was signing foreign players, but I had faith in my ability and, whoever was brought in, I was determined to fight for my place.

'With the money Sven had to spend, he has brought in big names - but I was willing to fight for my place like in any team.

'The first game I played under him I played right-back and scored against Doncaster pre-season. For the second game, Richard Dunne was injured and he put me as captain and made me centre-half and I had a good game there as well.

'Sven said he thinks I'm going to end up as a centre-half. He told me just to go out there and enjoy it and that, if you are playing well, you will keep your place in the side.

'Now I've got the challenge with England. I know Gary Neville is a legend but I see it as if you are playing well, you should keep your place.

'I don't see it being just a case of keeping the place in the side warm for him. I feel I've done well enough to stay in. It is up to the manager to decide.'